Characteristics of Christ | HOLINESS

A 40 Day Journey to Becoming Like the One We Follow

Day 19: Holiness (John 17:17-19)

Do you have special plates that only get used on the rarest of occasions, maybe once or twice a year? Yeah, we do, too. There are just some moments when you want to use the special plates. They’re fancier, shinier, more decorative, and more easily broken. They are set aside in a cabinet to remain undisturbed until the next special occasion.

Or maybe you’ve had to get a very specialized tool for a project. It amazes me how many tools are out there that are made for one specific task. There’s an entire Subreddit devoted to Specialized Tools. It’s both crazy and genius what people come up with.

To be holy is to be set apart, or categorically different/other. God is holy, for there is no one or nothing like him. Jesus is holy because there was not and never will be anyone like him – the perfect Son of God, full of grace and truth.

The Jews had two categories for people and things – holy/sacred and common/profane. The Sabbath was a holy/sacred day. Monday was common. A priest was holy. A baker was common. The Temple was holy. A blacksmith shop was common. And that which was holy could easily be corrupted by something common or “unclean.” You can read all about that in Leviticus.

There was a process by which things could be made clean again, but almost never do you read about someone or something unclean being made holy by that which is holy. A white cloth may be stained, but a white cloth cannot remove stains from something else without becoming stained itself. Right?

But then Jesus comes along. He touches a man with leprosy and makes him whole and clean again. He is touched by a woman with a bleeding issue and heals her infirmity. He takes a dead girl by the hand and brings her to life.

Jesus is holy, but his holiness is not corrupted. His holiness spills out over all that is common/profane/unclean and makes everything it touches holy once again. That includes people. His disciples were a bunch of rough and tumble guys – fishermen, fighters, tax collectors, and more. These most common of dudes become completely uncommon, dare I say holy, by being with Jesus. His final prayer for them is that they may be sanctified (made holy/sacred) by God’s word.

Paul calls us “saints” – holy ones – and that is what we are if we have been washed in Jesus’ blood, made clean by the waters of baptism, and raised to a new, holy, sanctified life.

Saints and Sinners

In my teen class last night we were discussing holiness. What is holiness? What things/people are holy? What’s the opposite of holy? Questions like that.

And then I asked, “Do you feel holy?”

As I looked around the room at all the shaking heads, it hit me. If we don’t buy it for ourselves, how can we possibly convince others of it??

If we don’t believe that we are holy and that we share in a holy experience through Jesus, how can we possibly take that message to others?

Peter reassures us that we are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

When Paul addressed his letters, he often addresses them to the “saints” in a certain place (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2). This word “saint” literally means holy one. These letters were written to the holy ones gathered in Ephesus, Collosae, Rome, etc.

The opposite of holy is common. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus came to pull us out of our common life, this common human experience plagued by sin, pain, rebellion, etc., and to catapult us into an existence unlike any other human experience. We have been taken out of the common and placed into the holy. We have been called “out of the darkness and into his wonderful light.”

But this doesn’t mean that we are free and clear when it comes to sin. I can testify that I have sinned WAY more after becoming and Christian than I did before. But that doesn’t mean we are sinners. That doesn’t mean we aren’t holy. That doesn’t mean we should give up, throw in the towel, and quit trying.

You are HOLY. I am HOLY. Even though we don’t always feel like it. That’s why Paul kept reminding them over and over that those Christians to whom he was writing were saints. They were holy. They were sanctified, set apart, called by God.

God has made us holy though the blood of Jesus. This is the truth to which we are trying to win people. So let’s start believing it. Let’s start living it.

You are holy.

My Life in Boxes

Well, we survived the move.


We’re making good headway at getting settled into our new house and getting familiar with a new city. Moving is always one of those strange times in life. There’s the sadness of leaving a familiar place yet the excitement of discovering someplace new. It’s leaving one part of your life behind and beginning the next part. It’s an end and a beginning all in one.

And then there are the boxes.

My entire life – my clothes, my cookware, my books & dvds, my photographs & memories – all boxed up and loaded into a 22 foot truck.

It’s inevitable. Try as I might to pack boxes of similar items from the same room in order to make unpacking that much easier, by the end we were just throwing all sorts of randomness into the next freshly taped box. Kitchen, bath, living room, and master bedroom paraphernalia all sharing a moving box together which gets marked “garage.”

We all have boxes in our lives. Psychologists call them schemas. You can think of them as habits. But we have a box for school. A box for work. A box for home life. A box for friends. We even have some boxes for random items that don’t really fit anywhere else.

This is not a bad thing. In fact, if it weren’t for my morning routine box, I wouldn’t be considered functional most days. It’s just how we live, interact, access memories and make decisions.

But most of us end up having a box for God. But what makes God – God – is his inability to be boxed. He does not fit any category other than his own and nothing else fits his category. God, by his nature, is uncategorizable. He is infinitely other. That’s called holiness.

So as I continue to unpack my life from my boxes, why don’t we all try to unpack God from that box we’ve been trying to shove him into. He’s too big for it. And it’s just better that way.